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AIBU?

AIBU to be furious that Jnr colleugue's salary now exceeds mine? discrimination?!

175 replies

WhatTheActualBeep · 01/02/2024 12:08

To give some background/context here: I have a decade of experience in my field. My current company was taken over by a much larger company in 2020. This same year I fell pregnant and took a year of maternity leave. Just before my leave, I hired an Assistant that supported me and the Director within my team. My maternity cover didn't work out, and whilst I was away, the Director decided to give some of my duties to this Assistant, whilst covering the remainder of my role themselves.

During my leave, the company was taken over, the Director was made redundant and the Assistant was given the same title as me (no Assistant role existed in the bigger company). Their salary was increased, but still approx 10k below my own.

Fast forward, and I return from maternity, the role I return to is vastly different,
the same title but much of the responsibility/seniority removed. 6 months later
the team gets a new Manager who becomes very buddy-buddy with the Assistant andother team members, and doesn't bother getting to know the team, their experience and work history etc.

I take another period of maternity, and return to find out that the 'Assistant'
has received an 18.5% salary increase, and their salary now exceeds my own (not
my much, but still), and they received a bonus of 15% salary, whilst I, on
maternity, got a 6% increase and a 7% bonus. I have never, in 10 years had a
bonus this low and chalk this up to not being in the 'in crowd' with this manager.

The Assistant has half a decade of experience less than me, does not outperform me in any way (whilst we have the same title, there are many aspects of the role
they are inexperienced in, and these tasks fall to me).

In a recent conversation with the manager, I learned that they have no knowledge of the fact that I actually hired the Assistant in my previous company, they used to report to me, and I have 5 years more experience than them! the VP
actually said 'oh really? I thought you were doing the same role at X company'
when this came up in conversation. Is this not the first thing you do as a new
manager - check out your team's skill-set, strengths and experience?

It's worth mentioning, that whilst I have had two DC, this Assistant has been VERY vocal about their views on motherhood, how they want to ‘live life for themselves’ and don’t ever want children.

I am seeing red about this whole situation. I was effectively demoted on return
from 1st maternity leave to a more junior role and got a whole new team, and
now this junior colleague’s salary is higher than my own despite my experience
exceeding theirs by 5 YEARS. I need to raise the bonus issue with my manager
anyway, as I didn't want to deal with that on maternity but AIBU about the
salary issue?!

How do I even raise this?!

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

1339 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
64%
You are NOT being unreasonable
36%
RatatouillePie · 01/02/2024 12:17

You raise it by asking.

But... do remember you still have the same pay/job title and received a pay rise (which should be the same as the others though - although if the bonus was performance related, and you weren't in work, it's not really fair to claim a share).

And whilst you have spent 2 years out of work on maternity, this other colleague has had chance to shine and progress in his career. You might have 5 years more experience than him, but experience doesn't always mean better.

I spent 10 years working as an engineer. I saw people plodding along, and I saw others come in and really progress up the ladder through hard work and determination. Some people progress really quickly at certain jobs. I've worked with some amazing and some awful engineers.

If you want a pay increase, ask for one and show the boss your worth to the company. If they can't see it, then I suggest applying elsewhere.

Onceuponaheartache · 01/02/2024 12:18

I think you need to separate out the 2 issues...salary absolutely needs addressing but is it even usual to awarded bonuses whilst on maternity leave and not contributing to the team in a practical sense?

You may need to review your contract and maternity policy for details I would assume

Tryingtohelp12 · 01/02/2024 12:21

I think at a certain point in most sectors after about 5 years I’d consider you experienced. Even if you have 20years experience the reality is the world changes so much that only the last 5 years would really benefit your day to day experience. Your colleague is working hard - be happy for them. often times people with decades of experience can be reluctant to change or trying new things (not saying this is you!) so having people with a mix of experience is a good thing for a team.

I would definitely arrange to meet with boss to gauge how salary increases/bonuses are decided and why you didn’t qualify for the higher amount.

Hollyhocksarenotmessy · 01/02/2024 12:22

Hello, HR person here.

You should definitely ask how the pay rises and bonuses were calculated to look for anything discriminatory.

But you need to calm down about the 'junior' part and your extra years experience. They aren't junior, they have the same role as you. If they don't perform the role in full so you have to pick up their work, that's a different thing and they've been there long to be competent. So a different angle to your conversation with the manager. It's not about number of years, it's about competency.

X years versus Y years is irrelevant.

araiwa · 01/02/2024 12:22

You're living in the past

You still call them.tbe assistant when they've been promoted to the same level as you

roarrfeckingroar · 01/02/2024 12:24

I think you're paying far too much attention to your colleague's salary and making a lot of assumptions. Perhaps they are performing better? Receiving better feedback? Are better at negotiating their contract / pay?

CatPancake · 01/02/2024 12:25

I’m unsure re pay increases / bonuses etc but I think your colleague has enough experience now to be on their own career path and negotiate job responsibilities and pay with no relation to you or how well you are paid.

a career is not a staircase you all go up one at a time.

Evaka · 01/02/2024 12:26

Years' experience don't matter a bit I'm afraid. If the other person has the same job title as you and at one point was on 10k less, sounds like it's acceptable pay policy for them to now earn more based on performance? Similarly, if bonus is performance based, I'd imagine they're considered to be one of the better performers in the team.

Marblessolveeverything · 01/02/2024 12:27

Their progress and advancement isn't to your detriment. They have been there front and forward obviously doing a good job while you were on maternity leaves.

Perhaps the experience doesn't count for as much as you think. Depending on the sector it can actually be a disadvantage.

Having transferrable skills and fresh eyes is of benefit to companies. I started over twenty years ago as a PA, I kept studying, produced international projects and bypassed the person I assisted, she is still bitter and references it when we cross paths at conferences. Meanwhile I am delighted to see my team progressing and take that as a sign I am delivering on staff development.

People don't always have linear careers and when people take maternity they do miss out on being visible. It shouldn't be that way but it is. I found coming back it really is a shock to the gap and take overs tend to be at board level with very little consideration as long as targets are made.

Check out your contract on the bonus issue.

Review the lay of the land on how to advance. And ignore her views on children, their hers and she is entitled.

Answersunknown · 01/02/2024 12:28

Ask for the rise and a new title based on specialist knowledge of x and y task that only you do and NOT that Z gets paid more than you!

LoobyDop · 01/02/2024 12:28

You are being massively unreasonable. You’ve had two periods of maternity leave, during which your former assistant has stepped up to cover for you, and clearly done a good job to the point where she has been promoted to be your peer. Your job- your salary and status has been protected, which is right, but you can’t expect the business and everyone else to stand still and wait for you to come back and catch up.

You can’t complain about not getting a full bonus. Tbh I think you’re very lucky to get one at all. Bonuses are a reward for business performance and individual contribution to that. You didn’t contribute for that period because you weren’t there.

Your colleague’s comments about not wanting children are completely irrelevant, and you’ve only included them to try and whip up other mothers to be on your side.

MerryMarigold · 01/02/2024 12:29

It sounds like you've been a bit stagnant, which is understandable with taking maternity leaves. But most people move up by moving out.

Also, whilst your colleague may have originally had 5 years less experience, this is now 3 less if you took 2 years of mat leave. They also have more up to date experience.

Personally I think you come across as a bit bitter and it not being about how good either of you are at the job but just about who was their first. By all means bring it up if you think you genuinely can do things the other person can't and make sure you don't sound aggrieved. But I would look to move on I think.

weescotlass · 01/02/2024 12:29

I think the issue is complicated by your maternity leaves.

If bonuses are performance related is it fair for you to receive the same bonus as someone who has been contributing to the business and performing in the same period you weren't actively working? I don't know, do they have a policy on that? Worth asking.

Fair enough to raise the history of your employment and that of your former assistant, to ensure fair pay and progression. But the number of years experience is irrelevant if someone is promoted based on their demonstrated performance and competency in their job.

Ducksinthebath · 01/02/2024 12:30

Maybe your colleague is just a better negotiator than you when it comes to salary? When it gets to review time I'm not shy in saying if I've had approaches from other firms and if I'm considering them (all the while handling it very carefully). Maybe your colleague does similar, or maybe they're better at selling themselves and are getting better reviews from management so eligible for better salary.

Ginandjuice57884 · 01/02/2024 12:30

Are they male perchance?

SkulkHollow · 01/02/2024 12:30

You need to forget this concept of junior and senior, by the sounds of it. You are both doing the same job. Maybe your collegue is just better at it, or at least management thinks they are better at it.

Often times payrise/bonus come down to how good an advocate for yourself you are.

avrilovert · 01/02/2024 12:30

LoobyDop · 01/02/2024 12:28

You are being massively unreasonable. You’ve had two periods of maternity leave, during which your former assistant has stepped up to cover for you, and clearly done a good job to the point where she has been promoted to be your peer. Your job- your salary and status has been protected, which is right, but you can’t expect the business and everyone else to stand still and wait for you to come back and catch up.

You can’t complain about not getting a full bonus. Tbh I think you’re very lucky to get one at all. Bonuses are a reward for business performance and individual contribution to that. You didn’t contribute for that period because you weren’t there.

Your colleague’s comments about not wanting children are completely irrelevant, and you’ve only included them to try and whip up other mothers to be on your side.

I agree completely. This “junior” colleague just sounds hardworking!

ElevenSeven · 01/02/2024 12:34

araiwa · 01/02/2024 12:22

You're living in the past

You still call them.tbe assistant when they've been promoted to the same level as you

This. We’ve seen this a few times at work. People think that anyone who started after them, must always remain lower than them.

Be careful of discussing salaries, that’s a gross misconduct in my firm.

5128gap · 01/02/2024 12:38

Is your colleague who is being paid more for doing the same job a man? If so you may have an equal pay claim. Other than that, you would need to show you had suffered detriment due to your maternity leave. (Remembering that another person's benefit is not the same as your detriment unless you can show you would have had the benefit too had you not been on maternity leave.)
So, your colleague aside, what detriment have you suffered? Have you lost an opportunity, seniority, pay (your bonus?) I think there's possibly enough going on there to seek some advice OP, either from an employment solicitor or at least from ACAS, and do this before you speak to HR (HR are nor there for you, they are there to protect your employer so will not advise in your interests if they conflict with the business) Because while it can be hard to prove, it's entirely possible you are one of the countless women who have been disadvantaged by taking maternity leave, so its always worth an expert (not MN!) opinion.

BananasInThreePieceSuits · 01/02/2024 12:38

YABVU. There’s no discrimination here.

You don’t deserve to have a higher salary just because you’ve worked there longer Confused

Reugny · 01/02/2024 12:42

ElevenSeven · 01/02/2024 12:34

This. We’ve seen this a few times at work. People think that anyone who started after them, must always remain lower than them.

Be careful of discussing salaries, that’s a gross misconduct in my firm.

Why?

Since the Equality Act was implemented you are allowed to discuss salaries.

Ghentsummer · 01/02/2024 12:45

ElevenSeven · 01/02/2024 12:34

This. We’ve seen this a few times at work. People think that anyone who started after them, must always remain lower than them.

Be careful of discussing salaries, that’s a gross misconduct in my firm.

Well your firm sound incredibly dodgy. Employees are allowed to discuss salaries as per the Equality Act 2010. If your firm is firing people for discussing salaries expect the firm to be sued.

WhatTheActualBeep · 01/02/2024 12:45

To provide some clarification re the bonus, this was not related to the maternity leave period, it was related to the year that I returned before the 2nd period of leave.

OP posts:
ThirtyThrillionThreeTrees · 01/02/2024 12:47

I also think that you need to seperate all of the issues as they are seperate arguments.

If you returned to the same job and same pay etc - there's no discrimination

The bonus arguments is weak - of you aren't nothing difficult to see an argument re the bonuses but what is the company's bonus policy etc. Ours is average of last 3 years prior to leave of any kind. (It's explicitly called out so whether people think it's fair or not- there are no surprises.

Your salary- if you believe you are underpaid, negotiate

Anyone who comes to me about salary and starts with John gets more etc or makes any direct named colleague comparisons, is asked to cone back when they want to discuss their salary, not anyone else's.

For what it's worth, I think your right to seek a pay review but just need yo ho about it differently.

theemmadilemma · 01/02/2024 12:48

Ahhh good to see the voices of reason are out in force today.

OP, you've had some really good, professional feedback here. I'd take it on board and reflect a LOT before you go stomping in.

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